North Dakota State School Chief Candidates on Common Core


Update: See a response to The Bismarck Tribune article from Joe Chiang below.

North Dakotans have a decision to make when it comes to their State Superintendent of Public Instruction race. Kirsten Baesler, a Republican who is running for reelection is being challenged by Joe Chiang who challenged Baesler at the state Republican convention, but is running as an independent, non-partisan candidate in the general election. (Note: I originally identified Mr. Chiang as a Republican candidate which he is not).

The Bismarck Tribune provides some contrast.

Regarding Baesler they write:

The state has moved toward writing K-12 standards and regaining local control for schools, says Baesler of her first term. Now, she wants to implement those changes and help push for a world-class education system in North Dakota.

“We are a cog in a great ecosystem for our state,” Baesler said. “I have the same commitment, same energy (and) same optimism on the next four years.”

She says an effort that began earlier this year for a group of educators and stakeholders to write new state standards to replace Common Core will be completed in March.

Next year, the state will be contacting testing organizations for proposals for a new state standardized test that meets North Dakota standards.

The problem is that the “rewrite” is just heading toward a “rebrand.” Here is what The Bismarck Tribune isn’t telling you.

In their press release last May, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction indicated that Common Core’s ELA and Math standards will be the starting point. The committee Baesler hired was to “update and improve” the current standards. It was not a repeal or complete overhaul.

Granted they could end up being like New York that did offer some significant changes, but voters won’t know that until March well after the election.

Baesler has not exactly been an ally in Common Core repeal efforts in the state. She was listed as a co-defendant in a lawsuit to try to block Common Core and Smarter Balanced, an effort that just recently failed in court.

Chiang, on the other hand, has been running to repeal Common Core.

State Superintendent candidate Joe Chiang says the state should scrap various programs such as Common Core and work to improve proficiency rates, according to Chiang, who is challenging Baesler for her position.

Chiang, a teacher at Four Winds Community High School in Fort Totten, said efforts to replace what he called one flawed program with another are pointless….

….“I would like to introduce my 80 percent rule here. My rule says ‘No program, directive or methodology may be implemented at any level of North Dakota education unless it is statistically proven to get at least 80 percent of students academically proficient,’” said Chiang, adding that such a rule would eliminate all forms of mandates such as Common Core or initiatives that may be unproven.

Another tidbit of information that I find interesting. Both candidates have records… as in criminal records. Baesler was arrested at her then-fiance’s house in 2015 and charged with simple assault. Those charges were dropped. She did plead guilty in 1997 to Class B misdemeanor theft and was given a deferred sentence and paid a $100 fine.

Chiang was convicted of embezzlement in 1984 in Virginia. An appeals court upheld the verdict in 1988, but The Bismarck Tribune said they were unable to records of how long her served. (See update below on this.)


Update: Joe Chiang emailed me because he wanted to clear up a few things he says the Bismarck Tribune got wrong. His email is below in full.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Tribune’s article.  The main inaccuracy was their reference to me as a Republican.
However, it is the white-washing of the issues that are the most blatant bending of the truth.  For example, they used platitudes where I point out what our relations who dropped out of school in the 3rd-grade could do.  Then that High School Graduates cannot read the Bible, solve fraction problems, and can’t even count back change.  Just saying students cannot imply our 3rd-grade students are not on that level where my point was that our graduates are not on that level.
I applied for the Democratic-NPL endorsement but that was not granted.  I was told, by inference, they wanted the incumbent as their choice which they have confirmed in print since.  I was denied the opportunity to speak to some District conventions and the state convention.
Although I was granted the opportunity to address the Republican State Convention, I was also denied the opportunity to address many of their District conventions because they wanted the Incumbent.
The criminal history is incomplete.  There were two trials, not one.  The first trial was thrown out.  In addition, my criminal history report from both Virgina and North Dakota show NO CONVICTIONS.  The ONLY way anyone could have learned about this was to send a Private Investigator sent to Virginia to seek out something in Virgina, which I have been told the Incumbent’s liberal supporters did.
I also reported to the paper that I could not provide a proper answer in just 400 characters and full answers would be available on my FaceBook page:  Joe Chiang 4 ND Superintendent
There are also issues that the paper avoided.  The North Dakota Constitution Article 8, Sections 2 regarding growing illiteracy and Article 8, Section 3 regarding teaching Temperance.  Violation of Constitutional law are important issues.
A big issue is the unlawful way the superintendent and the board are handling the North Dakota School Land Fund (Article 8, Section 1, Article X, Century Code 6-09-07).  This fund is $4 billion to fund our schools that are withheld from school use.  The law says our Bank of North Dakota will handle the funds, but the superintendent and board are paying New York Bankers to handle the funds and paying them $300 million or $1.5 million per school to handle the funds.  This is a big deal.
Our current funding is an issue as mentioned.  But there was no explanation and most people have no idea what is meant by that viewpoint.  Currently, we are rewarding education failure financially while punishing education success.  There is so much more, but this is the short version.